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Trial of man accused of spitting at Nelson hotel employee delayed

The trial of a man charged with assault for spitting on a woman in Nelson was adjourned this afternoon after the judge heard testimony from two witnesses and after new evidence was brought forward.

Defense attorney Don White called for the adjournment after Rhonda Comeau testified about video and photographic evidence taken on scene but not disclosed to the defence.

White says without the evidence in court it could jeopardize his ability to properly defend his client, Jeremy Undershute, who has pleaded not guilty to a single count

“I am asking for the adjournment because this is the first I have learned about this evidence,” White said in court. “The second video was not provided in disclosure, so I would like to prepare thoroughly and not be put into a rushed situation.”

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White said he appreciates the pressure to get the trial dealt with, but he isn’t going to ignore what could be critical evidence. 

“I need the proper amount of time to determine how to use this video, or what it changes,” he said. “We have already heard testimony from employees at Empire [Coffee], but with all respect to the witness, Ms. Comeau, I am not willing to accept that nothing more shows.”

White said if an adjournment wasn’t granted it would hinder Undershute’s rights.

“If I do get the evidence, I have a reduced amount of time to view it,” he said. “It is such a reduced amount that it would hinder the right to a fair trial.

“I don’t make this request lightly, but it could be the difference in the case.”

Judge Rob Brown granted the adjournment after carefully weighing all aspects of the argument presented by White but said it just came down to a person’s fundamental rights. 

“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, under section 11, [says] a person has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Brown said. “The cross examination of witnesses is a critical part of this, so if access to all evidence.

“This is why I am accepting this application.”

The trial was adjourned until Feb. 14

Comeau suffered a heart attack after the altercation on Nov. 20, 2020, which stemmed from a confrontation over the use of masks. 

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